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Monday, December 12, 2005

Iron&Wine/Calexico - Spectrum, Montréal - Full

The show was easy. Almost too easy. Despite a late start, Flatlander and I made it over the boarder without a hitch, grabbed some sweet sushi, got a great parking spot, and walked right into the venue. Le Spectrum de Montréal is a large place - a substantial balcony filled with tables and the periphery of the first floor crammed with the same. It was the largest venue I'd been to in a good number of years.

We walked in a few moments past the hour and were welcomed by rock. And when I say rock, I mean we looked at each other wondering if we were at the right show rock. Calexico were putting on a show, shredding and jamming, sounding much stronger and crisper then the atmospheric post-rock that I'd heard on their records. The large stage was filled with horns, pedal steel, drums, percussion, and at points a small guitar army. They eventually played a few tunes that I recollected from their third disc, The Black Light. Crystalizing the mood were the screen behind them playing classic flora and fauna films of the sort one might find in a neglected drawer in a high school biology classroom and their parting "Tuscan, Arizona."

Salvador Duran (not this yawner) immediately took right-of-center stage and played a handful of beautiful flamenco (or flamencoish, depending on who you ask). It was guttural, it was in Spanish, it had stomping percussion, there were galloping horse noises coming from his mouth, it had fast start-stop guitar, and there was harmonica all delivered with pure conviction, charisma, and passion. So much passion, in fact, that at one point I was surrounded by three couples sucking face. THREE COUPLES bumping in to me with their eyes closed and hormones raging. I was afraid that I accidently walked into some sort of make-out club. Must of been the flamenco.

After a small break and a move to the front, Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) and his sister, Sarah, took the stage. His beard was big and the songs started hushed. But as he went through his cataloge more members of Calexico sat in. The group ebbed and flowed (peaking at 11) along with the music. Most of the tunes started with his normal intimate manner (added by the occasional song restructuring), but they seemed to build and become larger and grander. Never too large, but more realized, as if the album versions were the instructions and the live version was the final product.

After nearly an hour of Iron & Wine the whole group came out for the remainder. They played nearly the entire In the Reins EP and then some, including a cover of The Velvet Underground's All Tomorrow's Parties. They truely did mesh the grandeur of Calexico with the intimacy of Iron & Wine. It was a great experience with three full hours of music. I certainly wasn't the only one who enjoyed the long and late show, for when we left we must of blew past a couple hundred smiling people in the coat check line.

Again, here's the NPR broadcast of their show in DC from 11/30/05. More of my photos from the show are here. For better quality shots, check out Chromwave's photos from the following night in Toronto.

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